Changes to ISO 14001

ISO 14001:2004 is setting out to meet stakeholder needs more fully as part of a revision process. This process is likely to lead to a new structure for the standard which will seek to address the recommendations from the ISO ‘Future Challenges’ study for the adoption of new approaches in the field of environment.

Following publication of the first Committee Draft by the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) in March 2013, current expectations are that a new version of the standard (ISO 14001:2015) will be published in May 2015 with a final draft available by January 2015. These dates may well be subject to change.

In following the process, ERM CVS will endeavour to keep clients up to date with developments and provide whatever insights we can. Below we address some of the questions you may have on the process to date:

Should my organisation start to make changes to what we do?

Our advice is proceed with caution until the final draft is published and you can be sure what the changes will be, their purpose and interpreting them into effective action.

What are the main changes currently proposed?

The intent of the redevelopment is to make more explicit some key areas and encourage organisations to think about environmental issues more broadly and strategically with a deepening focus on performance results. The headlines of the proposed changes are:

  1. A drive towards securing more engagement from senior management – EMS requirements to be implemented into the organisations business strategy.
  2. Greater strategic consideration of the organisations’ environmental ‘context’ – relating to understanding the internal and external issues and the needs and expectations of interested parties
  3. Making specific commitments to environmental protection and sustainable development
  4. Extending influence into the supply chain
  5. Using environmental design techniques as a tool for delivering performance improvements
  6. Reinforcement of the need to demonstrate and understand compliance status at all times.
  7. Using performance indicators to track improvement

It is intended that there will be 5five new clauses relating to:

  • Understanding the environmental context of the organisation
  • Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
  • External communication and reporting
  • Value chain planning and control; and
  • Continual improvement

How big is the change?

In general this revision is regarded by most as a bigger overall change than the revision of 2004. Our view is that it will certainly require a review of your current system and that there is likely to be a need for some change in your programmes and processes.

How long will we have to make the transition to the revised Standard?

The previous revision of ISO 14001 allowed 18 months for the transition to the new Standard. The changes this time are considered to be more fundamental and it is likely that up to 3 years may be granted by ISO for certified organisations to achieve the transition. At this point it is not known how long ISO and hence the accreditation bodies will allow for the transition.

If I have an integrated EHS Management System and ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification are there any complications?

We wouldn’t anticipate any major issues but when we develop our plans for transition audits we will advise our clients how we will treat both partially and fully integrated systems plus any differences that the new revision may create.

What should we do next?

Make a note of next key dates and watch out for further guidance. Ensure your management team is aware that of the revision process.

If you have any other specific questions on the standard please send them to post@ermcvs.com or call one of the named contacts on this website.